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FINAL: Michigan State wraps up 2022 with 89-68 win against Buffalo

December 30, 2022

Michigan State took on Buffalo at the Breslin Center on Friday, Dec. 30, for their final game of 2022. The Spartans took the win over the Bills with a final score 89-68.

In its last game of 2022, Michigan State took care of business against the visiting Buffalo Bulls, winning 89-68.

Graduate student forward Joey Hauser led the Spartans in scoring, notching 14 points as well as 12 rebounds and six assists. 

However, scoring wasn’t limited to the usual suspects on the starting lineup. Led by senior forward Malik Hall’s 11 points, the Spartans scored 38 points on the evening. 

At times this season, the Spartans have had stretches without many trips to the line. That was not the case against Buffalo. The Spartans shot 30 free throws, while the Bulls visited the line just 10 times. 

The game was Michigan State’s first in nine days, and it showed in the opening minutes. Looking plenty rusty, even MSU’s most consistent starters were completely out of sorts. Luckily for the Spartans, the visitors looked just as uncomfortable on offense. 

The game finally found some rhythm at around the five-minute mark. Junior guard A.J. Hoggard scored a quick four points and the rest of the team followed suit, scoring in transition and capitalizing on turnovers. Buffalo had some answers here and there, but not quite enough to keep up the pace. 

Michigan State started to pull away from Buffalo near the halfway point of the first half. With a transition three from Hall, some quick layups and an improved showing from the defense, the Spartans began to put together a comfortable lead against the visitors from the Mid-American Conference. 

MSU’s scoring through the first 30 minutes was distributed across the lineup. For a majority of the season, the starters have shouldered a vast majority of the load. However, through the first 20 minutes, nearly half of Michigan State’s points (20) came from the bench. 

Even players like freshman guard Tre Holloman, who typically sticks to distributing and defending, notched five points in the first half. 

That improved showing from the bench in the first half could certainly be attributed to Hall’s return to the lineup.

Missing from the lineup since mid-November, Hall did what he could with limited usage in his return to the court, notching 11 points in just 12 minutes. Nine of those points were scored in the first half alone. Hall also showed his strong defense within the first half, bringing back a versatile and athletic presence to the perimeter. 

Despite the strong finish to the first half, Michigan State had a rough few minutes to open the second. Putting together some great defensive possessions and earning some tough buckets, the Bulls quickly drew within three points. 

Sophomore guard Jaden Akins finally scored MSU’s first points of the second half nearly three minutes in, draining a corner three. The Spartan offense seemed to awaken after Akins's triple as a pair of dunks from junior center Mady Sissoko, Michigan State finally started to finish on its scoring opportunities to re-build its lead. 

While Michigan State continued to cling onto its lead as the second half progressed, Buffalo tried its best to keep up. The visitors kept the game within reach for a good stretch, but as the second half waned away, so too did the Bulls scoring opportunities and defensive stops.  

Buffalo started to really run out of steam in the final 10 minutes of the half. Michigan State took firm control, extending its lead to as much as 26 points in the final few minutes. 

Michigan State returns to conference play next Tuesday, hosting Nebraska for a 7:00 p.m. matchup.

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